Tour de Tucunare – Colombia 2017

As I mentioned in the post before, I would have been devastated if I had to return to Switzerland after such a slow week that we had in Brazil this time. Fortunately this adventure just started and three more weeks were on the program.
In Manaus Daniel and I quickly packed up all our stuff and shortly afterwards headed to the airport. It took us another two flights to get to Bogota, Colombia where we had a few days to relax and visit the city. At first the high altitude plus the smog made every movement laborious but we still managed to visit some “important” spots.

DSC_0149– Bogota from above –

DSC_0203– Bolivar –

So, after a few days stumbling around this enormous city, it was finally time for the next round of Peacock Bass hunting! Together with Jan, our dear friend from Switzerland who joined us in Bogota, we flew to Puerto Inirida from where a boat brought us and the rest of the group for the week to our camp on the Rio Vichada. Because the anglers who fished the week before us would leave on the next day, we had to decided between tent or hammock and so I came to my first night in a hammock ever. It wouldn’t be the last such experience for a long time but more to this later.
An adventurous night later I was ready to finally catch some big Pavones as they call the Peacock Bass in Colombia. On the water, it took quiet some time until we got into some action but Daniel and I were already trained in being patient from the week before in brazil. Right before lunch I lost the first good sized fish in front of the boat. I still don’t know how but this fish managed to break off the screw which attached the prop and treble on the butt of my Highroller Riproller 7.5”. The lure was not one hour in use…
To not loose time, I decided to wait with tying on a new Chopper until lunch and fish an Imakatsu Trairao, rigged on another rod instead. A few casts in, a good one around 15lb inhaled the WTD lure. “Finally!” I thought to myself just seconds before I lost contact, the 80lb Daiwa Samurai Braid was cleanly cut.
As we discovered, grow the bigger Peacocks here small teeth able to cut line. So, if such a fish inhales a lure completely (which is more likely to happen with smaller baits) it gets difficult because as soon as the line touches a toothy part of the fish’s mouth it can easily break, which probably happened with my fish too.
What a harsh start into this trip but at least I already got some motivational action by noon. In the afternoon we didn’t find the real big ones neither but still both got some decent sized fish up to 8lb, what would have been an excellent result one week ago on the Kalua. Fortunately we had 14 full days of fishing ahead of us, 14 opportunities to catch monster Peacock Bass of which we dreamed since we left Colombia almost exactly one year ago.

DSC_0228– Daniel seemed to like his new PBT shirt –

On day two our guide Daniel (yes, two Daniels on the boat so I will call my fishing buddy by his nickname “Housi” for the rest of this report) took us to a lagoon which was already dried out when we were there last year. While Daniel was negotiating the entry fee with the Indians to which this lagoon belongs, I played around with my Wide Glide 200 which I bought a week earlier in Manaus. I just couldn’t resist the stunning discount of a full dollar! Jokes besides, when Housi brought one of these with him the last year I just laughed, I was too fixed on my Highroller Riprollers aka Chopper which in my eyes were the best thing ever made. This time I was going for the biggest, meanest Peacock Bass in the river so I wanted to step up a size. So I was making my first casts with this 20cm surface glidebait to see how it works and totally unexpected I got the first fish of the day on my third cast. What a cool start in the day, this lure definitely won my attention!

DSC_0233 – first fish for the R2S Wide Gilde 200F and the Deps Huge Custom 6’2”-

This catch motivated me to spend throwing this lure all day long which resulted in some nice fish while the fishing overall stood tough. Till the evening I brought around 10 fish in the boat ranging from over-motivated 3-pounders to nice fish in the 13lb-class plus several good ones that spit out the heavy lure.

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DSC_0249 – respect the creatures of mother nature –

The following days didn’t go as promising as we were hoping due to the not ideal conditions of waterlevel, weather, moon and others. Of course we kept fishing anyway and landed some well sized fish but the real trophies didn’t seem too motivated…

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DSC_0274– rainstorms occured on a daily basis, it could get nasty quickly –

After a few days fishing the lagoons around the camp, we, Housi, Jan and me plus our guides, decided to try our luck up river where we found some promising spots in the past year. Our host bought a simple house in the village up there which was our base camp for the coming days. The house basically consists of not much more than four walls and a  simple sheet roof with an improvised kitchen where also shower ans toilet are located. Since there is no more furniture than a small table and a few plastic chairs we had to sleep in hammocks again. Which isn’t the worst place to sleep if it wasn’t for the village’s dogs which kept loudly communicating with their friends all night long. When one finally fell asleep, the peace usually didn’t hold on longer than until our cook started her work at 4am sharp. So much for the “vacation” part of this trip but, at least I, didn’t make my way to the jungle for sleeping anyway :).

DSC_0382– Housi and Jan waiting for breakfast –

With a new starting point came new motivation and Housi and I told about the honey hole we found last year a few minutes from the village. With great anticipation we entered the lagoon but after fishing all the good points we hadn’t seen much fish and it didn’t get better the following hours after. The conditions didn’t seem right up here too and while leaving we discovered a possible reason, water was coming in what resulted in rising water levels. The next spot seemed the same as last year – dead! So the next few days we spent searching new lagoons via satellite view on an offline map on the smartphone. Fallen trees were worked out of the way, the boats pushed through almost no water and new waters conquered but the fish didn’t seem that hungry or the lagoons were already too dry. We even sent locals to up river to check water levels only to find a dried out lagoon the next day anyway.

DSC_0318– one of the few fish from our hotspot from last year –

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DSC_0289– the search for new lagoons resulted in interesting conversations with the locals –

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DSC_0469– even though the fish didn’t seem ready, my tackle was! –

After this fiasko for which we drove over 2 hours by boat one way we decided on a known lagoon of which we knew it had fish and water in it. We visited the lagoon from day two where I “discovered” the Wide Glide 200 and have been fishing it often whenever the conditions seemed right. To make the story of this short, it still seemed to be working. In the morning I caught a 13lber and a 15lber within ten minutes and another nice one around 13lb later that day. A welcome change after the last few days being kind of tough.

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So the supplies got shorter and shorter and after a few days there was no more bottled drinking water available in the whole village what forced us to live off entirely of Coca Cola, Gatorde and beer which sounds like way more fun than it actually was. Before we had to hunt and dig for water, our host had another fishing boat bring us supplies to the lagoon where we both were supposed to fish this day. This delivery turned out to be way more intense than such a simple task usually goes. When we arrived at the mouth of the lagoon we were greeted with insults by the fisherman on the other boat. This because he had to wait for us for about 5-10 minutes. We quickly moved the goods in our boat and let the furious idiot enter the lagoon. Since we found him fishing the first of three lakes shortly afterwards we decided to head straight for the second one which he wanted to do as well when he saw us. We offered him that we would fish there for about half an hour and then move to another spot leaving him with all three lakes. But he didn’t seem that pleased and started shouting at us things like “get out of MY lagoon”, “I paid for fishing here, these are MY spots” or my favorite “you came here to colonise Colombia, MY country!”. The amusing part ended abruptly when he started waving around with a machete but he calmed down quickly when he was offered to clear this with a fistfight ashore. He sat down sulky and we decided to leave him with HIS spots for which he paid… as we did of course but he seemed to forget that. Anyway, at the end we should be the lucky ones while the immature giant-baby caught almost nothing that day, as we later were told. Daniel drove us to a spot nearby and suddenly I saw several blow ups a few hundred meters in front of us. Of course we had to try to find those fish and to my surprise we did only minutes after the observed action. One of the pack bite my Riproller but got off in front of the boat. I saw several double digit fish following their friend and we he got off I pitched the tangled up lure a few meters, twitched it a bit and the biggest fish (an estimated 18lber) of the group came up from below and ate it straight away. At the same time Housi hooked one two and now we tried to land two well sized fish with one net-job. Mine got off a few moments later and while reeling in the lure another, smaller fish hit the Riproller again but finally shook it off before getting in the net. So in total I had three fish on but landed none while Housi had one which he landed. Life can be unfair in so many ways but this was such a spectacular action that couldn’t be angry for long but appreciated the experience instead. At least I have the whole action on GoPro. On our way to the lunch spot we stopped at one particular spot and stood there a bit longer than planned. It might sound crazy but we probably hit the perfect moment because Housi landed during 40 minutes a fish with each single cast!!! I caught my fish too but experimented with several topwaters before turning to a midwater lure which was a guaranty for fish in this case. We weren’t catching trophy Peacocks but still fun to catch fish between two and five pounds. We were sure that there had to be some bigger ones around as well and before we finally left for lunch, Housi made one cast with a bigger Glider what resulted in another 13 pounder. What an unbelievable day or at least morning! In the afternoon we found a few more fish what rounded up this pretty good day.

DSC_0442 – good one on the Riproller before leaving –

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The fishing kept being tough so our guide decided to try one last joker. We visited a local indian tribe and asked for permission to fish their lagoon for the coming day. In the past they always refused entrance to everybody but after a discussion with Daniel and some money, the chief agreed to let us fish there the next day if he could join us on the boat. Since we never had the intent to betray anybody we picked him up early the next morning and started fishing. Until noon a few spots produced good action and Jan even caught a fat 16 pounder.

DSC_0445– FangBait fish in the morning  – 

The real magic started after lunch when our new friend told us to keep fishing one particular spot where the fish would come every single day to feed. So for the next few hours we fished one particular spot of maybe 50x150m over and over. First we thought we were dreaming because what happened seemed so far from reality. Every 5-10 minutes somebody of the three of us caught a fish in the 8-12lb range with a few fish up to 16lb. Sometimes all three had fish on at the same time, Jan even had a doubleheader on his jerkbait twice and this action held on for hours. From time to time we took a break until on of us decided to catch another fish and BAM! caught one on the first cast. Even our guides had to admit that they haven’t seen something like this ever before. Maybe with smaller fish from 1-3lbs but never with fish in this size.

190– good one on the Riproller in the afternoon –

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It felt so unreal and I kept fishing like a maniac with hopes for THE big one to show up. So I decided to put myself apart of the rest and changed my jerkbait for my new friend, the Wide Glide! Jan was still laughing when something big crushed my lure in front of his boat! Finally in the net the scale showed something over 16lbs! “That’s what I’m talking about!” Not the 20 pounder I was hoping for but nevertheless a stunning Peacock Bass!

DSC_0452– of course the camera had to be on the wrong settings for the biggest one… –

DSC_0492– battle scars –

This crazy action endured until sunset when we had to return to the village and left a unforgettable memory in our minds! What a day!

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– beautiful colors on this one –

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– power of pink –

After these action-packed days we stumbled upon Johnny Hoffmann and his crew at lunch. Because they wanted to film we were denied access to the lagoon we planned on fishing in the afternoon. Since our supplies were almost used up again and some of our group were unmotivated due a lack of sleep, we decided to drive down to the camp.

DSC_0486– good one from the morning –

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DSC_0496– another one on the Wide Glide on the way back –

DSC_0548– back in the camp –

The next day we returned to the indian lagoon where the magic happened two days ago because we promised so to the chief of this village. We still caught a bunch of fish but compared to our first visit the end result wasn’t nearly as stunning as last time.

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DSC_0540– Borboleta –

Housi and Jan then decided to leave two days earlier for Puerto Inirida due tiredness and a lack of motivation to fish the same lagoons around the camp again. So for the last two days I was on my own, fishing alone with Daniel. We invited Nano, our guy for everything in the camp and friend, to join us on the boat which he happily accepted. I decided to concentrate on my old favourite, the mighty Highroller Riproller, which provided some fun action through the last days of this amazing trip despite losing a really big fish on the very last cast!

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DSC_0623– the almost perfect shot –

DSC_0625– and now the whole fish –

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DSC_0676 – trees. i like trees –

DSC_0698– fishing till the moon rises –

DSC_0700– time to pack my stuff –

Even though the 20lber didn’t happen this time it was still another amazing trip which I hopefully will remember for the rest of my life. To experience all this nature around is always impressive! One more time I am very thankful for another successful adventure. May many more follow in the future! Thank you to all that made this trip possible, until next time!

If you made it till here I’d like to thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed this report!

DSC_0684– PBTworldwide –

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PEACE!

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